Despite a particularly controversial period as Prime Minister, the Chilcot Inquiry and the fact he told us ages ago that he wouldn’t, Tony Blair is apparently set to make a return to politics.
According to a source speaking to the Sunday Times, the former PM has seen a Brexit-sized gap in today’s politics. The source said Blair had some harsh criticisms of the current occupants of Westminster:
“He’s not impressed with Theresa May. He thinks she’s a total lightweight. He thinks Jeremy Corbyn’s a nutter and the Tories are screwing up Brexit. He thinks there’s a massive hole in British politics that he can fill.”
Last time we checked, Blair wasn’t a pissed up student mouthing off in the Union. A spokeswoman for Tony Blair has denied he described his political rivals so colourfully, but has confirmed he will be setting up a new office in London for his 130 staff – though not next door to Westminster.
A Whitehall source has revealed that he has already been meeting with George Osborne to discuss the post-Brexit “political climate”, which the spokeswoman confirmed saying “as he has with many people” and that he will continue to speak out against Brexit.
While Blair has called Remainers “insurgents” who need to “prise apart the alliance which gave us Brexit”, it’s fair to say he might have trouble rallying troops this time.
Since resigning from his post almost 10 years ago due to mounting criticism from the public and his own party for the way he was running parliament and his involvement in the Iraq War, he has quietly worked as an envoy for peace in the Middle East for the UN and EU, advised the private sector and set up his own company to advise governments and companies for free.
Following the referendum on Brexit, he has reappeared in the headlines, taking a hard stance against it and calling for a second referendum when the inevitable conditions of benefitting from a deal with the EU comes in.
On Corbyn, Blair has hardly been his biggest fan, criticising him for standing by while Syrians die, claiming a Corbyn parliament would be a “dangerous experiment” and likening him to “the guy holding the placard.”
Theresa May’s government dismissed the possibility of a second referendum following Blair’s call, but he claimed her stance left millions of people in the center feeling “politically homeless” with noone to lead them (hint,hint).
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of a Blair return, back in October the former PM refused to deny he would come knocking at either May or Corbyn’s doors in an interview with Esquire.
As the rumours gain more traction, Tory MPs seem unfazed by the possibility of Blair setting up an anti-Brexit group, claiming it is a “complete win” to have a “discredited establishment figure” lead the campaign for a “hokey-cokey Brexit.”
John Redwood, the pro-Brexit MP for Wokingham welcomed Blair as “an intervener in all the things that we hold dear. It is a great help to us."
In a similarly sarcastic vein, Eurosceptic Tory MP Steve Baker, added that th plans made him "very happy" and he was sure Blair would be a "great asset." Meanwhile Owen Paterson, the former Environment Secretary, said Blair deserved the “international prize for lack of self awareness this year."